Nestor Cortes feels fine. The Yankees lefty threw five solid innings Saturday in the Bombers’ 8-2 win over the Royals at Yankee Stadium. With that, he’s thrown 106.2 overall this season and is inching close to where he topped out last season.
That had been a concern about the 27-year-old coming into the season. He has never pitched more than 93 in the big leagues and threw just 108 between the majors and minors last year.
He pitched a career-high 115 inning in the minors back in 2018.
“I feel great, don’t feel it at all,” the All-Star pitcher said. “Between 2018 and 2019, I threw winter ball, so I feel like I’ve had more innings than are actually logged.”
Cortes held the Royals to two runs on five hits and two walks Saturday. He struck out five. He has allowed three earned runs or less in 16 of his 19 starts this season and two or fewer in 14 starts.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone admitted they are managing his workload in the second half of the season.
“Being at 90 pitches through five there,” Boone said, “there was some consideration in my mind of sending him back out there at least for Hunter Dozier and then the lefty [Vinnie Pasquantino]. I was considering that but then just kind of worked it through with [coaches Carlos Mendoza and Matt Blake]. He’s worked hard today, it’s a hot day … Do I really want to push him through two hitters? We were set up pretty well with [Aroldis Chapman] and we had Clarke [Schmidt] down there for length if we had a lead.”
CONFIDENCE IN CHAPMAN
Chapman, who has struggled of late, pitched his third consecutive scoreless inning, striking out two. It was just the former Yankees closer’s second successful back-to-back appearance since coming off the injured list July 2. The other back-to-back scoreless innings were against the Pirates July 5-6.
Boone is encouraged.
“He’s throwing his fastball for strikes again and I think it’s delivery related. I think it’s focus related, not that he’s not focused, but I mean, he’s just focused on just being efficient with his delivery,” Boone said.
Chapman spent six weeks on the injured list after suffering an ankle/Achilles injury. Much of that time was working on his delivery after he gave up two earned runs and could only record one out on May 22. The 34-year old said he made some mechanical changes that have given him more confidence in the fastball.
ROCK SOLID ROOKIE
Ron Marinaccio has worked his way into high leverage innings. The Yankees right-hander has been dominant in his rookie season and even though he struggled in Sunday’s 8-6 loss to the Royals at Yankee Stadium, manager Aaron Boone saw something he liked in that.
The Toms River native had not given up a hit since June 7. Hunter Dozier snapped that streak and his 19-inning scoreless streak with one swing. Dozier led off the eighth with home run, the first run Marinaccio was responsible for since April 28.
“He didn’t flinch,” Boone said of Marinaccio after giving up the homer. “It wasn’t a perfect day for him…… So on an outing where he was kind of struggling a little bit with his command and gets ambushed right away with the home run, I thought his poise was good and he just kind of kept the blinders on and kept making pitches. He makes a big pitch to get out of the inning with the lead and for as good as he’s been doing and the kind of dominant little run he’s been on, to have a little bit of adversity out there and a big spot late, I thought he did a good job of just holding his composure and just continuing to make pitches.”
Before giving up the hit to Dozier, Marinaccio had not allowed a hit to the previous 56 batters he faced, the third longest streak in the majors since 1974. Dennis Eckersley retired 71 straight batters in 1997 and Dwight Gooden put down 57 in a row in 1996
DJ LeMahieu hit his 11th home run of the season, his second in as many games Sunday. It was the first time he had homered in back-to-back games since he homered in three straight Sept. 15-17, 2020. He went 2-for-5 with two RBI Sunday. He has reached base multiple times in his last 20 starts this season. He’s batting .349/.462/.477 with two doubles, three home runs and 10 RBI in that span.
BUILDING ON SUCCESS
Matt Carpenter went 2-for-3 with two doubles Sunday. Of his 35 hits, 23 have gone for extra bases. He has eight doubles and 15 home runs.
“I think he’s back to being the All Star-level hitter that he’s been for most of his career,” Boone said.
The Yankees picked up Carpenter, who had opted out of a minor league deal with the Rangers, at the end of May.
Aaron Boone said that Giancarlo Stanton will begin baseball activities “early this week.” Stanton was placed on the injured list with left Achilles tendinitis on Tuesday.
“Probably in the next couple of days,” Boone said. “They’ll probably start whether it’s throwing, probably doing some tee-work and upper body hitting and stuff like that. Just talking to him briefly yesterday, I think he’s definitely encouraged by the last few days. He’s noticed improvement and I think has moved the needle in how he would hope. So, hopefully that starts to pick up speed this week.”
Stanton is hitting .228/.309/.498 with an .807 OPS and 24 home runs this season.
BRITTON ON THE BUMP
Zack Britton will take a big step in his recovery from elbow reconstruction surgery this week. He will face hitters for the first time in the next week.
“I don’t want to put an expectation on it. He’s doing well,” Boone said. “He’s about to get to the live hitter portion of the rehab return. So we continue to be encouraged. but what it all means we’ll just wait and see.”
The Yankees continue to believe that Britton will be an option for them at the end of this season. The 34-year old lefty is a free agent after this season.
Right-hander Luis Severino is scheduled to begin his throwing program Monday after a 14-day period of not throwing. Severino has been on the injured list since July 14 with a strained lat muscle. While the Yankees will not reveal an expected timetable for Severino’s return, they will likely be very cautious with him. It will be weeks before he’s ready to pitch in a big league game again.
Severino will start with playing catch on flat ground, likely at 60 feet and work his way back to 120 feet. Then he will begin throwing in a bullpen, the next step is to face live batters in a controlled situation. Being out two weeks already, Severino will need to make rehab appearances in minor league games.